Not just any fall thing. Ghostly tours, spooky events happening in NJ this summer.

Craig McManus, a medium in North Jersey since the 1990s, says tapping into haunted places sometimes means dispelling myths. Not just about where ghosts might reside or what their intentions might be, but also what time of year you should venture your own paranormal investigations and tours.

‘It is an old Celtic superstition, Samhain, a holiday, that the veil is thinnest between our world and the world of ghosts around Halloween. But in fact, I think it’s appropriate any time of the year,” McManus told NJ Advance Media.

Since the mid-2000s, McManus says haunted New Jersey attractions have come to follow this motto as they craft their annual program of events. Those efforts will only increase this year — the third summer hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses and organizations look for more and new ways to attract visitors.

“We started organizing events in September and October (about 10 years ago) and then we started doing them all year round because people interested in the paranormal and quote unquoted ‘ghost hunt’ are not just interested in the fall, they’re interested year-round, so it’s just starting to catch on,” said John Ruggiero, founder of New Jersey Paranormal, which partners with organizations and conducts private paranormal investigations in people’s homes.

According to Ruggiero, the number of haunted summer events is likely to peak this summer as places can return to pre-pandemic levels.

McManus has partnered with Cape May MAC (Museum Arts Culture) to facilitate the Ghosts of Cape May Trolley and the Spirits and Oddities Trolley tours – both of which explore the history and ghosts that permeate the southernmost part of the state.

A third event, the Graveyard, Ghosts & Guides Combo Tour, will be held by Cape May MAC staff, Susan said Krysiak, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit. A whole series of events are planned for the summer.

One new element McManus has added to his events, he said, is picking up on tour visitors’ own susceptibility to detecting ghosts. People, he said, tend to be open-minded during his sessions.

“You have to remember for Cape May, people are here for the warmer weather, but sometimes they want to do something at night, sometimes it’s rainy… so it’s not just Halloween something,” McManus said. “In that sense, it’s like in Charleston and New Orleans and other places in the country — that there’s a crowd that wants to talk about ghosts all year round.”

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, White Hill Mansion in Fieldsboro, the Strauss Mansion in Atlantic Highlands, and Paranormal Books & Curiosities in Asbury Park have all similarly expanded their offerings based on demand and due to fewer COVID restrictions.

More private tours

The Strauss Mansion is unmistakable as you drive past Prospect Circle in Atlantic Highlands.

The huge Victorian home has been open to the public since 1982, about a decade after the local historical society bought it from the town — eventually opening to open houses during the day.

Patty Bickauskas, a board member of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society, said nighttime paranormal investigations were launched amid renewed interest in the topic, led by early 2000s shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.” While these investigations have been taking place periodically at the Strauss Mansion for decades, they will expand this summer following a change in arrangement, she said.

Bickauskas said a single psychic investigator would usually come in to conduct investigations (he did this on the condition of exclusivity, so no one else could organize his own events). At the end of 2021, that changed – partly due to her suspicion that the country house had the potential to bring in more people.

Research equipment at Strauss Mansion Museum in Atlantic Highlands.John Jones | For NJ Advance Media:

“In the fall of 2021, we decided that we wanted to take a different path and let in other paranormal groups,” Bickauskas said.

After an average of about three paranormal investigations over two years, the Strauss Mansion will host at least 16 events from now this year with eight different investigators. More events can be added to the calendar.

Described as an “interactive adventure” by the historical society, groups come in to explore the house’s 21 rooms for up to six hours. Equipment may vary, including night vision cameras and audio recorders, as well as electromagnetic field sensors that detect changes in energy. Some signs of a ghostly presence aren’t known until the evidence is analyzed later, which could take hours, Bickauskas noted.

“We also use a laser grid, which shoots thousands of lasers against a wall. If you see the beams broken, it’s supposed to be a ghost,” Bickauskas said. “Either you believe in it or you don’t believe in it. I am a skeptical believer.”

Ken Gaughran, a guide at Asbury Park store Paranormal Books & Curiosities, says he falls into a believer’s similar bucket with some skepticism.

What he isn’t skeptical about is the growing interest in exploring what he calls the ‘dark side of Asbury Park’.

“I think it’s part curiosity, part excitement. There is interest in what else could be, what could be out there. Everyone loves a good ghost story,” Gaughran said.

In addition to a few new projects, Gaughran said he couldn’t discuss it at the moment; the guide said that Paranormal Books & Curiosities’ “Boardwalk Tour” is back this summer from July 16 after a hiatus last year due to COVID-19.

Participants are no longer required to wear face masks or social distancing during the tours, but they can if they feel more comfortable doing so.

Private tours of The Paranormal Museum — which allow a group of six to browse various haunted artifacts and historical relics — have also become popular, Gaughran said.

Paranormal House

Strauss Mansion Museum in the Atlantic Highlands.John Jones | For NJ Advance Media:

Come for the ghosts, stay for the history

White Hill Mansion is full of historical significance.

While ghost tours and ghost hunts attract people, Dawn Reichard, president of the Friends of White Hill Mansion, said they tend to stay and come back because of the rich history lessons they’re exposed to.

According to the Friends of White Hill Mansion, the New Jersey estate was where David Bruce invented a new typesetting machine in 1832.

The last person born at White Hill Mansion was Archibald Crossley. Along with his colleagues George Gallup and Elmo Roper, he pioneered the development of political opinion polls. The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver continues its legacy,” Friends of White Hill Mansion says online.

The name of the city of Burlington County where the mansion is located was White Hill. It was renamed Fieldsboro after the Fields family, which included Robert Field who built White Hill Mansion along the Delaware River in the 1720s and Isaac Field, who bought it in 1847.

In 2013, the mansion became a state-registered historic site, and it continues to evolve to this day, organizers there said.

“The improvements are on the porch and some of the exterior woodwork. That exterior woodwork is from the Victorian period, so it must be 1895. We’re trying to restore that part,” Reichard said, reviewing the various grants. discussed who the group is seeking to restore parts of White Hill Mansion.

“We are also designing five interpretive boards around the park so that people can read about the Fields family and White Hill’s place and Fieldsboro’s importance to New Jersey history,” she added.

Reichard said the organization has added private tours to its calendar of offers for this year based on their recent popularity.

“We’re also getting ready to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War, which will take place in 2026. I think, especially in New Jersey, there’s a lot of pressure to hold events at some of these Revolutionary War sites,” Reichard said. , noting that White Hill is one such site. “I think you will see a lot of celebrations and more things from the programs coming up. People are curious about where they come from, what their history is and what their past is.”

William Kroth, the president and executive director of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, agreed that history is important to keep in mind.

Walking through about 1,300 feet of tunnel in the mine gives you a glimpse into the past – with a lamp room, shaft station and mining galleries dating back to the 1830s. Now that COVID-19 is less of a concern to visitors, walking tours have increased their capacity from 20 to about 40 people, Kroth said.

Ruggiero, founder of New Jersey Paranormal, said he knows from his own research that dozens of people died in the mine when it was still active from the 1630s onward. He admits that even he has encountered sounds coming from the tunnel that he didn’t quite understand. can explain.

“That’s what the paranormal does. It goes hand in hand with history and almost entices people to go to these historic sites that they may not have gone to, just based on what they’ve read,” Ruggiero said. “They usually come back. After we do our nighttime ‘ghost hunts’ they come back during the day and visit the site again so they can learn more about it. So it works on many different levels.”

Paranormal House

Patty Bickauskas (right) gives a house tour to Barry Ruggiero, Michelle Dimeo, JT Burkard and Sandy Burkard at the Strauss Mansion Museum in Atlantic Highlands on June 18, 2022.John Jones | For NJ Advance Media:

Find events here

More information about upcoming events can be found here:

  • Cape May MAC events are available here.
  • White Hill Mansion events are available here.
  • Paranormal events in New Jersey are available here.
  • Sterling Hill Mining Museum events are available here.
  • Ghost Capers are available here.
  • Paranormal Books & Curiosities events are available here.
  • Atlantic Highlands Historical events are available here.

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Steven Rodas can be reached at: [email protected]† Follow him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj

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